I’ve had an epiphany! I have at last realised, with SO many failed attempts you don’t even want to know, why I am so totally rubbish at baking gluten free bread.
I am using the wrong type of flour!
Yup as simple as that. Well actually, not quite. Let me explain.
So as you know if you’ve read some of my past posts, I have a ton of different flours in my cupboard including all the weird and wonderful ones, in the hopes that I may never come across a recipe that I fancy but can’t make coz I don’t have the right flour! That’s the theory anyway (and the reason for the large amazon bill). But as a standard flour for my store cupboard I always just grab a bag of whatever is available – one in plain and one in self raising. It’s often Dove’s Farm and sometimes it’s Asda’s own.
Now it turns out this is where I have been going wrong. Attempt after attempt of different types of bread, from seeded to sweet to courgette to quinoa and everything in between, I have tried them all and the one thing they all have in common is……they are inedible. And I had never figured out why until right now.
It’s all to do with one little ingredient…..called……buckwheat flour.
(While many people think that buckwheat is a cereal grain, it is actually a fruit seed that is related to rhubarb and sorrel making it a suitable substitute for grains for people who are sensitive to wheat or other grains that contain protein glutens. Buckwheat flowers are very fragrant and are attractive to bees that use them to produce a special, strongly flavored, dark honey.)
Now I should have thought about this harder because a couple of weeks ago I had a melt down trying to make decent pancakes for the pancake day, I kept seeing these great looking recipes for buckwheat pancakes and so I tried a couple of them. Never thinking that it was the flour particularly that was making them go wrong. I just thought I was rubbish at making pancakes!
So how did I make the connection? Well today I was (again) trying to bake bread. I baked three rather pretty looking loaves today as you can see, they all look lovely right?
I went to a go-to cookery book of mine called The Intolerant Gourmet by Pippa Kendrick (which I highly recommend by the way, I learnt a lot from her recipes) and found her bread section and decided to try to Quinoa Loaf and the Crusty White. As recommended by her I used my Dove’s Farm plain flour. And this……this is the problem.
I made the breads exactly from the recipe, cooking time & temperature and they looked ok coming out of the oven, but the first two loaves I made both had a distinctive smell about them. And once cooled and sliced, all it took was one bite to taste that smell. It’s kind of bitter and slightly mouldy tasting. It has a weird tang that is left on your tongue and at the back of your mouth. And it makes the texture kind of claggy.
I took this explanation from google: ‘Roasted buckwheat has an intense taste – like darkly toasted bread or a hoppy beer. We prefer the strong taste of buckwheat, as delicious as it is, in moderation. One popular use is pancakes; we prefer partial buckwheat flour used in proportion to wheat.’
Strangely a lot, I mean a LOT of people out there, seem to love it! And I guess that’s individual taste for you. I’ve seen recipes where it’s used for all sorts of things, from pancakes to pies to breads to cereals. There’s obviously nothing wrong with it if you like it, if you like the tangy bitter taste, but for me it keeps ruining my bread!
The basic ingredients of Dove’s Farm plain, self-raising and brown bread flour blends are rice flour, potato starch, tapioca flour, maize flour and……BUCKWHEAT FLOUR. Same ingredients in Asda’s and Waitrose’s own brand. I don’t believe Tesco or Sainsbury’s do an own brand gluten free flour yet but I may be wrong.
So I did a bit more research and have found out that there are (phew) a couple of brands of gluten free flours out there without buckwheat in them:
Bobs Mill 1 to 1 and the all purpose blend are both fine (they have sorghum flour in them and the all purpose blend also has some bean flours too). I have seen it in the bigger supermarkets like Sainsburys and Waitrose and you can order it from Ocado or Amazon.
The Gluten Free Flour Co from Harrogate have very recently started making their own brand of flour available with free shipping in the UK and it’s really reasonably priced. Just £5 for a kilo. I just ordered a bag today as a tester so I’ll let you know how it bakes.
There are also (and this is why I had my epiphany moment) some pre-made bread mixes out there without buckwheat in them where a lot of the hard work of adding carefully measured ingredients has already been done for you. Enter the Hale & Hearty light bread mix with golden linseed.
So I had this baby in the drawer as a failsafe and it’s just been sitting there for ages. So after my two failed bread making attempts this morning I got it out and literally just mixed it with water, chucked in a few seeds and popped it in the oven.
And hey presto look what came out!!
Yay hurrah yippeeeee clap clap clap cheer loudly!!!!!!
Looks at this gorgeous little thing of loveliness, look at the lovely colour and the crispy crust and the soft white middle and all those yummy seeds. mmmmmmmmmmmm.
Oh and it’s Gluten Free Dairy Free Yeast Free Egg Free and Organic! Wowzers.
So I’m sold. That’s it…no more stressing trying to make bread from scratch, for the time being I am sticking to these lovely bread mixes and I’m going to try some of the others on the market too to let you know how they are.
As a last footnote….I got to wondering whether shop-bought gluten free bread ever had the dreaded buckwheat flour in it and my research thankfully shows that only one brand as far as I can see does, and that’s called BFree. They do a couple of different types of bread and various wraps, and all include buckwheat flour. I’m afraid I’ll be avoiding them like the plague!
However from what I can see all of these following brands and types of breads/bread products are ok (oh and I’ve listed them in order of my favourites taste-wise so you can make good choices when you’re shopping):
Burgen: soya & linseed/sunflower & chia
Biona: millet/rice & sunflower
Newburn: white, seeded, brown, thins, wraps and (amazingly) they do a delicious actual fresh fresh round sourdough loaf and a classic white but I’ve only seen on Ocado
Genius: white, seeded, brown, fruit and pitta
Schar: ciabatta rolls, brioche rolls and a couple of standard breads
Udi’s: bagels, white & brown bread, various rolls